It may not seem like it yet, or even anytime soon but Chelsea receiving this transfer ban could actually be a monumental blessing in disguise. That’s even if they finish the season poorly (I mean, unless they get relegated or something similarly absurd). Being slapped with an embargo on signings when you’ve just had to reappoint a manager is never an ideal situation but when you take everything into account, they will be better off in the long-run because of it. It may even have granted Frank Lampard more time considering owner Roman Abramovich loves a fire-sale – Lampard is his 14th appointment since taking over in 2003.
We’ll begin with the current state of the transfer market. Teams are firstly still adjusting to the fact that the window closes before the opening Premier League game – previously it was the end of the month which enabled some managers to act quickly to replace any glaring issues. They can’t do that now. In some ways the panic buys just come much earlier – see Fulham last season but it encourages teams to do their business early – ala Aston Villa this summer.
The market is also acting rather weird – it could be the first time ever that the total amount spent has decreased in successive windows for quite some time. That’s even stranger when you see the fees that some clubs are spending – we’ve had world record fees on Virgil van Dijk not too long ago, £50m for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Chelsea themselves have spent £58m on Christian Pulisic whilst Arsenal are reportedly signing Nicolas Pepe for £72m. It wouldn’t have been easy for Lampard and Chelsea to operate too well this summer. Elite players, English players and proven talent are all worth ten times the amount they would have been worth years ago so we’re seeing teams pay an absolute premium for them – regardless of age.
Chelsea has always been known as the team to not give youth even a smidge of a chance. It has often led to the club loaning players out perennially – Lewis Baker is now 24 and is embarking on his seventh loan spell having only played three whole minutes in his Chelsea career. Crazy. Sometimes players are sold on or they are just simply sold as they never get the chance to make the cut. That’ll now change under Lampard and we’ve already seen signs of it with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount getting serious game time this pre-season whilst Reece James is firmly in his thoughts along with other youth stars. The benefit here is that Chelsea get players who can offer either a long-term solution to the club, without paying a fee for them, or can breed them into sellable assets in the future. It’s a win-win.
There will be a considerable lack of pressure on the youngsters too. The fans will know if they are played it’s because Lampard rates them or there is simply no other choice. They can’t go out and buy a superstar to fill any gaps until next year. When the duration of the ban comes to an end, and the club looks to strengthen, they may well have already filled certain spots meaning any new additions would be merely additional help to a squad that has transitioned and developed so much over the course of a year. The next season is almost an extended pre-season but it comes with added responsibility, just play for the shirt and that’s all that will matter.